Mr. Bert Cadieu (Meadow Lake):
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to make some remarks on this bill. Unfortunately I was absent from the committee and therefore not able to take the active part I would like to have taken when the bill was at committee stage. However, I did follow it very closely.
While in my constituency I was unable to find anyone in support of this bill. A few said that, no matter what they thought, it would come and they would have to accept it. However, no one stated that we should be accepting it at this time, jumping the gun before the country is ready for it.
June 9, 1977
This metric legislation which has been before the House for some time will affect the western grain farmer to the greatest extent. The Metric Commission instructed the grain trade to convert to the metric system as of February 1 of this year. However, this has been delayed for some time because the bill is not yet through the Houses
Members can find ammunition with regard to this bill. All they have to do is read Qpen Forum or the Western Producer to see where westerners stand on this matter. I do not know why the minister and the government want to railroad this through the House.
In effect, the main change for farmers will be that his acres will be no more. They will be replaced by hectares, 2.2 acres, while the buying of grain from the farmer will be in tonnes, which is about 2,200 pounds. From the time the bill has been in committee, the official opposition have been pointing out the unfairness of trying to railroad this bill through the House at this time. We attempted to stop the bill since it would appear to be of little use to those who deal with country elevators. The system will cause nothing but confusion to' the farmer who, of all segments of the grain trade, is least able to cope with it.
Furthermore, the United States is not likely to convert to hectares or tonnes for a considerable time, so we shall be out of step when it comes to farm machinery, herbicides and fertilizer. The prime mover in this chain seems to have been the Metric Commission, followed by the Wheat Board and the Grain Commissioners; the various grain handling companies have acquiesced.
The railways will still ship in bushels as they have no intention of changing over until 1981.
The Wheat Board has given as its reason for the changeover that it will save $1,000,000 in computations.
The Conservatives have asked that the acre be retained and that the farmer sell grain at the country elevator at the bushel measure until we standardize with the United States. The Metric Commission, however, with the Wheat Board agreeing, say this will not be as tidy a system and that it is necessary to introduce the metric system for grain across the board.
The Liberal members of the committee supported the changes aggressively but it is interesting to note that this change from acres and bushels only affects the designated Wheat Board area, while the rest of Canada will not likely face any changes for some years so far as acres to hectares is concerned.
I am rather suspicious that the government instituted it in the Wheat Board area to see how it will be accepted. We saw this going on at the committee stage. When I look at the bill and think of the effect it will have on all classes of people, I am sure those who have been supporting it have not been reading their mail or taking note of what has been going on at home.
Like my hon. friend from Churchill I also represent a northern riding and I have no doubt as to how the bill will be accepted in the north. It will not be well received. The
fishermen will certainly be against it, too. This is something which the government cannot railroad through the House. I am reminded of an elderly woman I heard from and who was downright disgusted with the whole thing. She was just about heartbroken. This is about the truest way in which I can explain it. She said, "We will never know how much our grandchildren weighed, how tall they were."
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: STATUTE LAW (METRIC CONVERSION) AMENDMENT ACT, 1976 AMENDMENTS TO WHEAT BOARD ACT TO FACILITATE CONVERSION TO METRIC SYSTEM